"..a bardy view!"

Welcome Relief in Amsterdam….

This is one of my favourite snaps taken on a recent visit to Amsterdam. To me it reflects the liberal and easy going nature of the city. It would not be permitted in the UK, nor indeed would the open air urinal that it is pointing to. Mar2010 006

Situated in the red-light district where scantily clad young (and not so young) women expose themselves behind ambient windows (day or night), the tourists amble up and down the narrow passages bemused, perhaps a little embarrassed, but generally un-phased by the sights on display. The police are discreetly present, calm and watchful, which no doubt helps maintain the friendly atmosphere.

I was especially taken by one knockout beauty who winked at me as I passed, and being so distracted I almost made intimate contact with a lamp-post. My companions – one my wife and the other my niece – both trailing a few feet behind, thought it most amusing.

Where else I thought could a man and his partner walk around an area filled with prostitutes, without feeling guilty or intimidated? It's worth pointing out that the infamous district is an ideal shortcut from Dam Square to Chinatown, and if the gaze can be averted, a whole historic and charming area exists, filled with curios.

Photos are not permitted of the "models", and unless a service is to be negotiated, standing and leering is frowned upon, and the aforementioned gendarmes will soon be on hand to move the lecher on.

Of course there is much more to Amsterdam, and I can think of fewer stress-free cities which can be so accessible on foot. Multicultural, ethnically diverse, tolerant, and exciting. Many will argue that the indigenous Dutch will soon be in the minority. Perhaps – but a short train ride into the country and the  essence of the Netherlands awaits.

People say the same of London – but the truth is out there, you've just got to look for it!


March 19, 2010 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , ,

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